There is no junior Holy Spirit.
For the past 10+ years, I’ve been blessed to have church leaders who regularly utter (and wholeheartedly believe) these words.
I know not every Christian can say the same, or would even know the difference, but I want to explain (briefly) the difference.
I grew up in a quaint small-town Methodist church, filled with kind people. We learned all about the Bible and the love of Jesus in Sunday School each week (hopefully earning awesome prizes, like pencils that rolled around in drawers forever unsharpened, or a small plastic something-or-other that made just enough noise to annoy your big sister…). It was a good church, full of Godly people. And I was completely oblivious to the fact that something was missing.
It wasn’t until after college that my husband and I discovered the large network of Vineyard churches and began attending. That first year was filled with eye-opening, aha-moment type learning experiences. The spiritual realm made more sense than ever before. Church was vibrant and life-giving. We had found our tribe. The activity of the Holy Spirit was clearly what had been missing in my previous church experiences.
Now, years later, I’m more thankful than ever that God led us to the Holy Spirit when he did. Why? Definitely for the sake of my husband and me, but mainly for the sake of our kids. We have three awesome kids, and if it hadn’t been for all we’ve learned through the Vineyard Church, their upbringing would no doubt look very different.
You see, I would have been more inclined and content to raise “church kids.” You know the ones I mean – good kids who go to church, learn their Bible lessons, and live happily ever after doing their best to be good enough. I was a church kid. Maybe you were too. And let me say this – it’s totally okay to raise church kids, as long as their faith becomes real to them and they make it their own.
Cue the Holy Spirit. The part of God that lives inside us when we accept Jesus as our Lord. The part of God that works in and through us every day, as much as we are willing to listen to him, anyway.
The reality of the Holy Spirit is life changing. The Holy Spirit is what transforms religion from an obligation into something irresistible.
I’ll say it again: There is no junior Holy Spirit. This means that the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is not only accessible to grown-up Jesus followers, but to children just the same.
Ponder that. Doesn’t that sort of blow your mind?
We have the amazing opportunity to teach our children and raise them up knowing the Holy Spirit lives inside them and has the power to transform not only their lives, but the lives of others through them. We get to raise up the next generation of Holy Spirit filled Jesus followers to know that the darkness on earth has no power over them, as long as they are connected to the Source.
So let’s be quick to speak up in defense of our (collective) children when well-meaning “church grown-ups” try to say they’re too young to understand or it’s “grown-up” stuff. We’re all at different levels of understanding and we always will be. This is complex stuff!
Just because a child, perhaps, doesn’t have the same capacity of understanding, doesn’t mean they can’t experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. After all, Jesus himself said (in Matthew 19:14):
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
So let’s all heed Jesus’ instruction and encourage our kids to experience the fullness of God’s power here on earth, here and now. Not just when they turn eighteen, or twenty-one, or whatever the assumed magic number may be.
The one and only Holy Spirit is for everyone who calls Jesus Lord, whether they’re three or a hundred and three. No junior version needed.
What has been your experience with the Holy Spirit? What about your kids, if you have them? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below!
Brief Update: My upcoming middle grade novel “Power Up” is coming to the end of the editing process. I’m so excited to share it in a couple of months with parents who, like me, want something deeper for their children. Something that will challenge them to go from “church kid” to “Spirit kid.” My hope is that “Power Up” will be one of the tools that inspires them along the way.